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4 Texas House incumbents to face runoffs against pro-school choice candidates


(The Center Square) – Four Texas House Republican incumbents face runoff elections in May against pro-school choice candidates. They are among several incumbents facing runoff elections, but four have been specifically targeted because of their opposition to school choice.

School choice won big in the Republican primary election on March 5. The majority of Republican primary voters also passed a nonbinding proposition supporting school choice.

School choice was a major issue on the ballot after 21 Republican members of the House voted last year to kill an amendment in the House allocating funding for and creating a school choice measure. The bill was filed after House Republicans refused to vote on an education bill the Senate repeatedly passed with bipartisan support to create the state’s first Education Savings Account program. Five of the 21 Republicans who opposed the amendment retired, leaving 16 incumbents running for reelection as targets of pro-school choice opponents.

Last week, six of these incumbents lost outright. Four pro-school choice candidates won their races in open seats.

Four incumbents were forced into a runoff election by pro-school choice candidates: DeWayne Burns (HD-58), Justin Holland (HD-33), John Kuempel (HD-44) and Gary VanDeaver (HD-1).

VanDeaver was the only incumbent who received more votes than his challenger in a multi-candidate race. Because he didn’t receive 50% of the vote, he is forced into a runoff with his top challenger, Chris Spencer.

The other incumbents received less votes than their challengers. Burns received less votes than his top challenger in a three-way race, Helen Kerwin, who received 48.9% of the vote.

Holland received fewer votes than his top challenger in a three-way race, Katrina Pierson, who received 39.45% of the vote. Kuempel also received fewer votes than his top challenger in a four-way race, Alan Schoolcraft, who received 48.11% of the vote.

Throughout the primary season, Gov. Greg Abbott endorsed and campaigned for nearly all pro-school choice House Republican candidates. He has endorsed Spencer, Kerwin, Pierson and Schoolcraft.

According to a University of Houston poll of Republican primary voters, 60% said they were less likely to vote for an incumbent who voted against school choice; 58% living in rural counties said they would vote against an opponent of school choice. The majority of Republican primary voters polled, 64%, said they want the Texas legislature to pass a school choice bill that will benefit all Texas families.

After the primary election and heading into the runoff elections, Abbott said, “Texans are one step closer to empowering every Texas family. Republican primary voters have once again sent an unmistakable message that parents deserve the freedom to choose the best education pathway for their child. When school choice opponents lost every argument on policy, they resigned to campaign lies – but they couldn’t fool Texas voters.

“We will continue to help true conservative candidates on the ballot who stand with the majority of their constituents in supporting education freedom for every Texas family and creating a brighter future for all Texans.”

The runoff election is May 28.